If there were any questions as to whether the Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees cared what the university community thought of its next chancellor, now we know.
Students, faculty and staff know and love this university more than the IHL board members. We deserve a say.
Choosing Tony the Landshark as a mascot was a more legitimate process than the IHL’s chancellor search; at least students had a say in choosing him. The IHL has no interest in student opinions, and now we know it with certainty.
Today’s news that Glenn Boyce will be the next chancellor is a thinly veiled attempt to exclude students, staff and faculty from a pivotal decision, but under further review, is exactly what it looks like: a sham.
The board supposedly represents democratic values. That is a farce. When a small group of individuals — appointed by a single governor — chooses for a large community of people, it is nothing other than undemocratic.
This is especially true when the choice for a new chancellor was directly involved in the quasi-search process.
Four years ago, Jeffrey Vitter visited campus before the decision was announced the same day that he would be the next chancellor. There was doubt that the visit had any meaningful impact on the decision, but at least the IHL pretended that student, faculty and staff thoughts and experiences mattered.
One man, Gov. Phil Bryant, chose all 12 trustees for the IHL. The 12 control a university with over 23,000 members.
The IHL Board of Trustees has long had outsized control of the university. It controls major spending decisions, tenure approvals, tuition increases. When the students and faculty wanted to take down the state flag and take down Ed Meek’s name from the journalism school, both had to first be approved by the IHL.
If the board that makes monumental decisions for the university no longer considers suggestions from the community, it is authoritarian.
This false sense of transparency is destroying all trust in the system and those who control it. Taxpayers and alumni are left out of the picture, too. There are no checks and balances.
The university is in a precarious situation. Falling enrollment (though that information has also been withheld so far this year), a brand damaged by repeated failure to do the right thing and bungled public relations strategies should make it clear: the current system isn’t working.